Phrases stuck in my head

Sometimes rather than musical earworms I get particular words or phrases stuck in my head. Last night I woke up with the phrase “Overoles Chiriboga” sort of echoing around every few seconds. This was from a shop sign in downtown Quito, Ecuador, which struck me as both an interestingly resounding phrase and a very beautiful shop front, with a cool font and beautiful paint job.

I took a good photo of it, thankfully, so it isn’t just in my memory. I love the guy standing there with a lot of luggage, and how he is sort of hanging out with the mannequin.

That’s all – there is nothing much to say about this — maybe just a common poet’s curse and blessing — but because I can’t get it out of my head, now you can have it too.

storefront in quito

p.s. it fits perfectly with the Dead Kennedys “California Uber Alles”.

Call for stories of childhood games

I’m working on a zine (or maybe a small book) of people’s stories of games they made up as children. This can be a simple story or paragraph or two — or you can go into more detail.

Examples — in one vignette, I describe the rules of a game my sister and I would play that we called “Animal Wrestling”. In another, we get a true confession of what 4 year old me was pretending while in a bubble bath (alien planet; dome cities).

Email me your stories of home-brewed games – whether played solely in your imagination or with siblings/friends!

I miss the Before Times

For months I think of posting and then turn instead to a book or a game, Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley, endless fantasy and science fiction, mystery and romance novels. How to capture any of this? The feeling of the slide to fascism along with climate crisis after crisis. I’ve always said that my hope in life is to avoid living in a country with an active war going on around me, with a side bonus of continuing to have drinkable running water and electricity. Am I going to get to live out my life with those hopes fulfilled or what? The uncertainty on those points continues to grow. Are these, actually, still the Before Times, when we used to have it good, and we don’t know it yet? Horrors.

Work gave us an extra day off last Friday, just because of the stress of the pandemic and the wildfires and bad air. Since the air is so bad, more or less everywhere we could reach, and it was also 100 degrees out (no exaggeration) we spent the 4 day weekend opening the windows any time the air was either cooled off or below 50 on the air quality index, then shutting windows again and running all the air filters. I’m feeling my asthma all the time now with the tight chest and tense, anxious feeling that goes with it. Checking PurpleAir and various fire maps, checking my handheld air quality monitor many times a day inside and outside, taking more showers and cold baths, mopping the floor by skating around with bare feet on wet dishclothes to cool off the room.

I spent a day and a half doing geneology reserach and writing up a narrative of the lives of a great great great grandfather William and his family and then the same for his daughter, my great great grandmother Caroline Crane. You can see the family go from the early 1800s agricultural laborers in a very peaty, marshy bit of Lancashire near Garstang, to William in 1851 getting to go to school till around age 8, then being apprenticed a bit later to a tailor. He was moving on up; he was literate enough to write his name, while his father and grandfather were not. I traced his movements through 3 marriages; he lost his tailoring business and ended up in a brickyard, then as a navvy in a coal mine at Darcy Lever, where his oldest daughter married a collier, James Hutchinson.

This branch of the family was full of examples of both collier and spinner/weaver/comber/whatever in the mills. Whether mines or mills, some patterns emerged. Maybe some schooling up to age 8 or 9, gradually increasing to age 11 or 12 if you were lucky later in the century. A relatively idyllic looking time as a young adult in your own household with a family of young children — if anyone was in school, and if the woman of the house wasn’t in a mill, you were doing GREAT. Then relatives either start moving in as they age or their spouses or parents die, then a couple of decades later you are living in some other 30 year old relative’s house.

I was able to follow James and Caroline’s life in Lancashire for a while. Then in 1911 45 year old James was out of work, and emigrated to the U.S. along with a neighbor. They ended up in Rhode Island where a bunch of my family is from. James and Caroline brought up a great-aunt who I know, so they don’t feel very distant, though they both died before I was born.

After my historical journey I read a book from 1931 called Boy, by James Hanley, about a Lancashire dockworker’s son who is forced to leave school at age 13 by his family to be a dockworker himself. The jobs are horrible and the other teenage workers abusive. (SPOILER ALERT) He then stows away on a seagoing vessel where he becomes basically a slave of the crew, who mostly try to rape him or push him around. He agonizes about his future. Cheerily, he then get syphilis in Alexandria. The captain murders him and throws his body overboard. It was an amazingly written book and I’d say, emotionally stunning. New vow to read everything by James Hanley. But I felt the weekend of 100+ heat and no good air to breathe might be better faced with a more formulaic series….I then plowed through all eight romance novels about the Bridgerton siblings (one book per sibling) by Julia Quinn. They are too mainstream heterosexual for me to be honest but I can “bracket” that by rolling my eyes or some sort of mental magic and they were funny and cute enough to be fun to read. I would also like to complain about how this sort of sex scene is written but there’s no point, let’s just know that it’s completely alien to me and I feel deeply grateful that is so. Nearly ready now to return to the land of war, the ocean, gritty, miserable generational poverty and abuse, etc that James Hanley shall bring me.

Still playing Animal Crossing, and still at the end stage of Spiritfarer, with only Buck and Elena on my enormous boat now, more or less ready to have Stella and Daffodil go through the Everdoor, not without crying I’m sure.

The bright and lovely world

I remember coming out of the house to go to the doctor one time after being ill and house-bound for something like three weeks. The vibrant activity, movement, color, all the people and buses and trees and birds and signs, moved me to tears. I still think of that moment of epiphany every time I’m going on the bus down Mission Street and feel a surge of love.

I’m not feeling super well this week, still interviewing but at a somewhat slower pace as I am getting easily tired (and sporadically running a low fever – still unsure if it is vaccine side effects, just some sort of routine sinus trouble, or a mild case of the Rona.)

Our fridge broke and we had to throw a lot of food away; I got a used fridge from a handy appliance shop just one block from us. Four guys delivered it and took out the old fridge. I bleached all the counters, fridge, and door handles before they came in to protect them, and afterwards to protect me. And tipped high in cash. So appreciating their work. It was quite stressful considering the possibility of trying to get through the quarantine/statewide lockdown without refrigeration for our food. Very happy to now have a working fridge again!

Once I feel a bit better, I have some plans to further organize and clean out our little “office” section of the living room, and to slowly repot every plant on the front porch. Work on my BART game would be nice too and I have several zine and book projects, any of which would be fun to fire up again. (They have fallen by the way as I’ve been either obsessed with jobhunting, de-stressing from interviewing, reading coronavirus news, or destressing from that by like, reading and more game playing.)

Every day I have been running a Stardew Valley game for some kids of my friends and that is now a nice part of the structure of my day.

I highly recommend unlimiting your children’s “screen time” at least for now. Minecraft, Roblox, are good choices for social gaming (and can be played in creative mode for those who don’t like combat games).

Musings on fundamentally ableist assumptions

It isn’t a terrible thing, but a revealing thing, that when I give a short description of the game project I’m working on, and include that you can play a blind or Deaf/deaf person or wheelchair user, people tend to make several assumptions. That the game is about the experience of frustration or pain, about inaccessibility, about barriers. And, that it’s for able bodied people to develop understanding or empathy. I’ve gotten this response so many times that I’ve stopped being surprised. But, how odd!

The reason I’m writing these possible points of view in the game is so that I and other disabled/blind/deaf folks can feel some part of their own experience reflected. It’s a game with fantasy and magic and time travel, it’s about feeling connected to your local geography and history and people and having a sense of place in the world, with a bunch of goofy puzzles. It’s supposed to be fun and amusing. The wheelchair using point of view character might “notice” the bumpiness of pavement or need to use the elevator in train stations instead of the stairs. The blind character gets to use a little audio guide to the train station environs instead of looking at the murals and signs and maps. That’s about it! It’s so that we get to play a fun game without feeling jarred out of what would be our own experience, on some level, and get to feel the pleasure and validation of being represented.

It’s like assuming that a farming or spy game where you can choose your gender, is “for” men to understand women or NB people’s experience, and to show how frustrating it is to be a non-male farmer or assassin or whatever. No, it’s to play the game with a sense of identity that you want to play as, not to play a game about being constantly sexually harassed and shooting powerful lasers out of your boobs, though I’m sure that would be fun in the right context.

Reasons to like a song

My dad clipped out this article on the woman from “My Sharona” (who is indeed named Sharona) & mailed it to me. It’s been a while since my parents sent me newspaper clippings. It felt nice… Anyway he sent it because i liked that song and used to play the album, which was possibly the first album I bought with my own money, in 1980 (either that or the Freedom of Choice Devo album – I can’t remember).

I also named one of my Breyer model horses “Sharona”. It was a very beautiful one!

Here is the secret, which my dad may or may not know, as to why I liked the song. It was because my cat was named Motor and I could sing the line “Oooh you make my Motor run, my Motor run” and think of my adorable cat, who was named Motor because we lived in Detroit, my dad worked for Ford, and obviously because of loud purring (from reading the book The House of Thirty Cats, I took cat naming very very seriously. You have to name the cat something appropriate to its particular personality.)

I like the song M-bike by PJ Harvey for the exact same reason! Good chorus: “MOTOR! MOTOR!! MOTOR!!!”

I guess the new “sending clippings to your grown kids” is just sending tumblr memes over whatsapp since that what I do to mine.

Extra sizzled smell

It took most of the day but I successfully got across town and got this wart thingie removed from the edge of my eyelid. I had two injections in the eyelid to numb it (novocaine eyesocket!) and they did a lot of other confusing and scary stuff and then neatly, quickly, cut out the wart. The tiniest little weird shaped forceps! Then it was cauterized. And swiped with mysterious substances.

All the way home on the bus I could smell it, too — like singed hair and extra crispy bacon.

I was trying to think what it reminded me of because I was having a vague proustian memory feeling and then realized it was when I got that brand on my arm, but also the time that I first lit a gas oven when i was 17 and burned my own eyebrows and bangs off, and then wayyy back to where I got on my friend pam’s older brother’s motorbike and burned the fuck out of my calf on one of the tailpipes (I still have just a trace of the scar).

While the surgeon was doing his thing I began to babble from nervousness and to get my mind off of creepy steel instruments coming towards my eye. I asked him about his practice (out of UCSF where he does reconstructive eye-related surgery) and then was like “Oh you know I read an interesting book about the clinic in World War I run by the guy who basically invented plastic surgery, Gillies, by this guy who was a pilot and had his eyelids burned off.” Somewhat taken aback the doc said, Yes, he knows about Gillies! and there is a procedure still named after him. This was ridiculous, but I couldn’t help it – it just popped into my head and it really does help me stay calm to get an interesting conversation going. In retrospect as I look at the Wikipedia entry I think I am actually mixing up at least 2 different books, one about Gillies’s clinic and one the memoir of the RAF pilot much later about the Guinea Pig Club, called The Last Enemy.

It took a ridiculous amount of time to get to the clinic and back (note to self, next time, take the 24 and just scoot half a mile, because, the J is a PITA and the 22 is possibly the worst slowety-ass bullshit bus, somehow) and I also had to wait very long times in between mysterious Things happening in the eye surgeon waiting rooms.

Eye surgeon waiting room was very full of older people hobbling painfully or with walkers or being pushed in those hellish “transport chairs” that give you no autonomy (and parked by their relatives/caregivers in humiliating places) Anyway older people with not very good mobility looking me up and down having some thoughts. Like planning to chairjack me I’m sure! You… yes you… you too could have this freedom…. take the wheels! *puts on mirror shades, fake-smokes a long candy cigarette* Don’cha wish your walker was hott like me, doncha wish your crutches were wheels right nowwwwww, doncha… I wish I could pep talk and liberate them all. Lovingly….

I worked a little when i got home but my eyeball feels weird. My eyes both keep watering and my eyelid on the formerly-warty side feels swollen and unpleasant.

So glad I got this over with! I’ve been putting it off for 2 years. Next up, a painful wart on my finger and then the dentist (way worse than eyeballs – dental phobia – I am going to try a new super nice sounding dentist who specially focuses on disabled/ phobic people hoping that I won’t throw up and cry when they even do the xrays and also I don’t want to be molested by any more creepy dentists and it’s an all women office, whew…)

Another pleasant day

No earthshattering thoughts here. I’m up to 1917 in the Morland Dynasty books, I did a ridiculous amount of bug triage, then took a friend to late lunch and got my toenails painted (copper colored with black and gold flowers on the big toes). Also worked on the sidewalk tree garden but not too hard – I did half of it and left the other half for tomorrow.

Early to bed with my book – that’s the plan – I feel a little boring today! But nice!

A warm woolly bed

Dashboard the Cat likes her new warm, woolly, felted bed that looks like a rock. She hasn’t much taken to cat beds in the past but she seems to like this one! It’s so cute!

Cat in a felted bed

I’m tired from a very long work day, so that’s all! I didn’t even leave the house today, omg. At beta 7 of…. 13 I think, plus another release candidate or two in the last week. The pace is starting to feel hectic.